We don’t go out to eat too often. It’s can be expensive and crazy. But, we also want to raise children that know how to behave in various social settings. It’s never even close to perfect, but we like to try.
It’s never been outright stated, but we have an unplugged at the table rule. Both at home and at restaurants. We want to interact with one another and enjoy each other’s company. Honestly, I don’t think our kids have even thought to ask for one of our phones on which to play. (Notice I said think. I don’t want to come across and high and mighty. Everybody does their parenting thing their own way. And, I know that I have screw ups daily!)
Now that that’s out of the way.
Tips for Dining Out with Unplugged Kids
1. Establish and set the expectations
We discuss the behavior, voices and attitudes we expect to see when in a restaurant and we hold them to them. We also understand that they are kids and they will still do kid things, so we remind them a lot.
2. Go early
We tend to go in much earlier than we would normally eat dinner. We aim for 5:00-5:30 at the latest while we normally eat closer to 6 at home. This helps catch them before they are so hungry that they want their food right away and their patience is close to 0. We usually don’t have to wait when going in this early and it decreases the number of adult only tables that might get upset my seeing kids. (And, I’m not even talking about fancy restaurants. Some people just don’t seem to like kids!) We often eat with the older crowd and that’s totally fine with us!
3. Call ahead seating or reservations
Even though you are going early, you never know if they have an even or something filling the place up. Call and see if they take reservations or call ahead seating. It’s no fun waiting in a tiny area with kids that are hungry and want to eat.
4. Let them be proactive in their ordering
Allow them to read the kids menu (if applicable) and decide what they’d like to eat (sometimes we give them choices, sometimes they get to pick completely). Then, they get to give the server their order. They practice their manners and also take responsibility for what they order.
5. Make sure of the activity pages
They might be “too old” for the activities on the page, but you would be surprised if you do it with them how much fun everybody has. We usually get in several good matches of tic-tac-toe which not only passes the time, but also has us interacting with one another instead of with our faces in a screen!
I’m not above a bribe. It usually actually isn’t necessary and most often is a surprise for them. They never really know if we will get one or not, but they know how to behave and know that it’s a good possibility there will be a dessert to share. Of course, this also makes mom and dad happy!
We were recently invited out to Longhorn Steakhouse (where they do call ahead seating) to try out their new Fall into Flavor Menu and practice what we preach! Although, we were guilty of getting our phones out, it was only to take pictures of our yummy food! My salad (hold the cheese please) was fabulous. I did have some strawberry, grape and orange scavengers, but I’m good about sharing!
Mr. Serious tried the Apple cider Baby Back ribs with the new potato and leek au gratin. The ribs were really good and truly fell off the bone. And it was very filling as well. He actually did’t finish his meal!
This fall, the menu celebrates freshness and hearty fall flavors. Check out all of these fabulous features.
- Brew Pub Pretzel Sticks (appetizer) – Warm pretzel breadsticks served with Sam Adams beer cheese and bacon honey mustard.
- New Potato & Leek Au Gratin (side) – Layered with aged white cheddar & bacon, topped with Parmesan breadcrumbs.
- Mushroom Truffle Bisque (soup) – Smooth, Creamy, Rich-flavored soup with an earthy mushroom flavor and a sour cream drizzle.
- Bleu Ridge Wedge Salad – Crisp heart of romaine topped with ripe tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, crumbled bleu cheese, red onions and bleu cheese dressing.
- Pumpkin Spice Lava Cake – Warm pumpkin spice cake, cream cheese icing, Maker’s Mark bourbon caramel sauce and candied pecans.
- Harvest Mushroom Filet – Our most tender center-cut filet topped with shiitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms in a hearty red wine bordelaise.
- Apple Cider Baby Back Ribs – Fall-off-the-bone ribs coated with a housemade sweet & savory hard cider BBQ glaze.
Longhorn Steakhouse would like to give one lucky reader a $25 Longhorn Steakhouse Gift Card to try out something yummy on their menu!
*Thank you to Longhorn Steakhouse for hosting us and for the giveaway. All thoughts are my own.